Both Yuffie and Vincent start gathering intel on each other.
Yuffie let go of Tseng but couldn't stop grinning. The grin turned into scowl when he ruffled her hair.
"You cut your hair short," he said, smiling at her.
"Way to state the obvious. I've kept it like this for more than ten years."
"Well, I haven't seen you in almost fifty years."
"Yeah," Yuffie turned somber. "It has been a really long time."
"It has," Tseng agreed. He took her hand. "C'mon, let's sit down."
He led her into a former office with a couple of old chairs and broken table. He sat down across from her, observing her.
"How have you been? I have to say I was surprised when I received your message. It's dangerous for Wutaian to be in Rufus Shinra's territory."
"Tseng, I'm Godo Kisaragi's only heir. I can take care of myself. I've been training for years and I could kick your ass anytime I wanted, cousin," she grinned cheekily, holding up her fingers in a victory sign.
Tseng laughed with her, observing her face. She looked to be about twenty but he knew she was much older, two hundred and sixteen if he counted right. He himself had been turned when he was twenty-five and that was ten years before she had been born. Their mothers had been human sisters, both of them belonging to the most important warrior clan in Wutai. From this clan, Lords of Pagoda had been choosing their fledglings for centuries and it was the greatest honour for them. Tseng's Sire was Staniv, second-in-command to Lord Godo Kisaragi who was Sire to Yuffie. If she succeeded in the ritual and defeated Godo, she would take her place amongst the Lords of Pagoda herself. If she failed, well, Lord of Wutai had no use for a weak progeny.
"What about you?" she interrupted his musings. "How's life at Shinra?"
"It has its perks," Tseng said. "Rufus trusts me enough to let me handle negotiations with lupines on my own. That's how I was able to meet with you. I told him I would be meeting with leaders of the packs that reside in Midgar. Luckily, there are only two in the city so I got away quickly."
"Two? I thought there were more?" Yuffie frowned trying to recall various briefings on a political situation of the darker part of the world. The one their kind resided in. Let it be said she had always been far more interested in improving her combat abilities and use of her disciplines then who was who in vampire's map of the world.
"You have old information. AVALANCHE and Silver Wolf are the only ones strong enough to hold on in current situation. You have been neglecting your lessons again?" he inquired with a teasing grin.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Yuffie replied, trying to appear offended. "I excel at everything I do, just so you know."
"Oh? Is that so?" Yuffie nodded and Tseng leaned forward, challenging her. "Then tell me, why there are only two lupine packs in Midgar when barely five years ago there were six."
"Because Rufus Shinra is slowly getting more control which is one of the reasons I came here. To get to know the enemy. Sooner or later he'll try to challenge Wutai. The Lords know about it. That's why you're working for him. To get us more information from inside."
"Correct," Tseng aquiesced. "It doesn't change the fact it's dangerous."
"Tseng," she whined. "I'm a fully grown vampire. I can take care of myself. In fact, I already did."
"What happened?" he asked in alarm. He had no illusions about what Godo or worse, Staniv, would do to him if Yuffie got hurt and he did nothing. They would rip him apart, quite literally in Staniv's case. Clan Gangrel's Protean was not something to mess with and Staniv's animal forms stroke fear into heart of anyone upon sight alone.
"I had a little run-in with two of Rufus' men. Rude and Reno."
"Oh god," Tseng slumped in his chair. "You're lucky to be alive."
"Now, listen here-"
"No, you listen. I work with the two of them very closely. They both belong to Rufus' inner circle as you would know if you bothered to read my reports before coming to Midgar. They are elite. Rufus combined them into a lethal team. Reno is Brujah, strong, fast, short-tempered. Rude is Assamite, fast, quiet, inconspicuous. You couldn't have escaped through your abilities alone."
"Okay," Yuffie admitted. "If that guy hadn't helped me out, I would have been in more trouble than I could get out of."
"What guy?" Tseng asked, wanting to bang his head against the wall in frustration. Either that or strangle his cousin for tellling him important information in pieces.
"I used Chimerstry to mask as a hobo. But this vampire guy was hiding in shadows and saw me. However, when Rude and Reno questioned him, he told them I wasn't there."
"They believed him?"
"I dunno. Probably. It seemed to me they were a little afraid of him. And they knew him from before. Said they were old friends."
"Who was he? Did he say his name?" Tseng thought about all the neutral vampires in Midgar who were strong enough to stand up to Rufus Shinra's men and at the same time could claim past aquaintance.
"No," Yuffie sulked. "He was pretty mean to me. He didn't even let me thank him. But Reno called him Vincent. I think it suits him. He had all the tall, dark and brooding thing going on."
"Did he wear cape?" only one name came to Tseng's mind and it was probably right guess.
"Yeah, a long red one. Why? Do you know him?"
"Yes. His name is Vincent Valentine. He used to work for Shinra, years ago."
"What happened to him?"
"He wanted help from someone he considered friend but that someone refused," Tseng frowned. "I refused."
Vincent Valentine strode into a large apartment complex unnoticed. In his mind he was still going over the events of the night. He doubted the girl would take his advice. She could fight and fighters were always cocky, so sure of their own abilities that they never knew when to give up. He remembered all too well what that kind of attitude had cost him. He sighed and entered his living quarters.
His apartment took up most of the fifth floor. It was specially made for his use. There were no windows and there were also rooms for his personel and food source. One of them waited in the hall as he came in.
"I'll have just a bloodbag tonight," Vincent announced and the man nodded once before leaving to fetch it. "Bring it to the library."
The library was a large room with a fireplace dominating it. The fire was not lit as the night was very warm. Vincent paused in thought in front of it before going to the large communication system built into one wall.
Oh, does our Vincent need his mommy's help? an all too familiar voice came from deep within his mind. The little boy is lost and confused, isn't he?
What did confuse him so? a second voice joined the first one. Was it a vampire girl?
Now, now, Vincent, the first voice said in its familiar growling tones. Vampire girls bring trouble for you.
Or maybe you forgot? the smooth silkiness of the second voice cut deeper than any knife. Maybe you would like a reminder?
"No," Vincent cut off the voices, pushing them back before they could drag up his memories. Still, there were only two voices tonight instead of the usual four which he considered blessing in disguise.
"Mister Valentine," the servant approached him with a tray. There was a fine glass goblet on it, full to the brim with a dark red liquid.
"Set it on a table. I don't wish to be troubled tonight anymore."
"Yes, sir," the servant closed the door behind him and Vincent dialed a number on the video-phone. While he was waiting for the connection to be made, he picked up the goblet and took a long sip of its contents. The phone rang only twice, before being picked up. The screen in front of him now showed a woman of an uncertain age. She looked young at first sight but something about her bespoke of a great life experience. She didn't look surprised by his call.
"Long time no see, Vincent."
"Saraya," he acknowledged her with respectful nod. "Something happened tonight and I have a feeling it was only a beginning."
So he did. He described the events of the night, including his encounters with Rufus Shinra's men and the Ravnos. The woman, Saraya, listened intently with her hands in front of her face, fingers with an inch long black nails touching lightly. She interrupted him only once, asking him to describe the girl and nodding to herself after he did. He finished his tale and started drinking from his goblet. He knew Saraya would like some time to think about what he had told her.
"Yuffie Kisaragi," she spoke, pressing a couple of keys in front of her and the screen changed to show the vampiress Vincent had met in the alley. "Godo Kisaragi's childe. Ancilla, around two hundred years old, the most probable candidate for the next Lord of Wutai. She is impulsive and reckless which would explain her presence in the city. Rufus must already know and I bet the possibility of killing off Godo's childe was too much to resist. Damn!" the screen showed her face again and Vincent, long used to his Sire's moods, was not surprised that outwardly there was no sign of rage on her face.
"You don't think she would leave after my warning?"
"Hmph," Saraya snorted. "If she's half as stubborn as Godo, it will only encourage her to stay. The problem, Vincent, is not in her presence. It's in what Rufus will do about her. If he sent Rude and Reno, he's serious. I'll have to contact my people in Shinra to keep an eye on anything concerning her but that won't be enough."
Vincent realized where this was leading. This was, after all, why he had stayed in Midgar and not left. Saraya had wanted him to stay and control Rufus' doing as she had had no illusions about the man's intentions.
"You want me to protect her."
It wasn't a question, yet Saraya paused in thought before nodding.
"Yes. You're certainly qualified. The last thing I need is an open warfare between Wutai and Shinra. It took us centuries to recover and gain balance after The War. And if Rufus is willing to risk it by attacking Wutai, he must feel stronger than I thought him to be."
"Do you think it has something to do with Hojo's research?" Vincent massaged his temple unconsciously. One of the reasons he had left Shinra had been his conflict with Hojo, Tzimisce scientist working for Rufus. The hatred between them had escalated into something resembling an open warfare and Hojo trying to use Vincent for his experiments, giving the schizophrenic voices in his head physical forms, had been just the peak of the iceberg. The crux of the matter had lay, as usual, in a woman - rather young Tremere Lucrecia Crescent who had been hired as Hojo's assistant and then used to conduct his most daring experiment. Vincent had tried to save her but his colleague Tseng had refused to go against Rufus' orders, leaving Vincent alone to confront Hojo. The 'confrontation' had resulted in a destruction of Hojo's entire lab, almost killing both Vincent and Hojo in the process. After that incident, Vincent had left Shinra while Hojo had stayed, trying to salvage what he could. Saraya had later said that it had set Hojo's research almost twenty years back.
"I know it has everything to do with it," she commented off-handedly. "He has been researching Jenova for almost a century and there have been rumours recently about people searching for Cain's grave. I don't like it, Vincent and Elmyra doesn't like it either."
"You still want to go ahead with that meeting?"
"Yes," Saraya tapped her fingers against the table. "It's vital that we start working together. Have you contacted Wallace and Sephiroth yet?"
"No," Vincent put the empty goblet on the desk. "Both of their packs have been lying low for some time. I'll try again tommorow."
"Leave it. I'll send someone else to contact them. Your new priority is Kisaragi's safety. If you could, try to persuade her to come to me. And keep her away from Shinra."
"Of course," Vincent nodded and prepared to end the connection. "Anything else?"
"No. Be careful and contact me as soon as anything is amiss. Goodbye."
"Goodbye," Vincent said as the screen went blank. He stood up and glanced at the clock on the wall. There were still almost three hours left until dawn. Too late to start a city-wide search for one Ravnos but too early to call it a day. However, there was one thing that could prove both useful and distracting. It had been some time since he had honed his sharpshooting skill. And with the trouble now being certain, it never hurt to be prepared.
"So you refused to help him?" Yuffie exclaimed as Tseng spoke about the events that had happened almost thirty years ago. "That's mean. He was your friend."
"I had my reasons. If I agreed to help him, Rufus would have me killed and Wutai would be left without a spy. I knew Rufus wouldn't dare to kill him."
"Why?" Yuffie frowned. Vincent's story made her just more interested in the guy.
"Because of his Sire. Saraya Dilwl."
"THE Saraya Dilwl?" Yuffie gasped. The woman who resided in Junon was almost a legend amongst the vampires. She was one of the two hundred vampires who had actually survived The War and unlike most of them, she had managed to keep her power to herself. She also refused to enter the Torpor - the state of existence most of the old vampires (those over a thousand years of age) prefered. There were only two other Cainites with the equal amount of power and supporters - Rufus Shinra and Godo Kisaragi. Those three had been undisputed leaders of vampire society for last thousand years. "But I thought she and Rufus didn't get along. Why would she let Vincent work for him?"
"I can only guess he was her spy but that's unlikely. He was too obvious choice. More probable is that she didn't care much. She's unpredictable, even for Malkavian. Of course, living for close to two thousand years does that to you," Tseng caught Yuffie's curious stare. "Rufus has extensive dossiers on all important members of our society. Similar as Godo does. I'm granted access to most of them."
"I see," Yuffie nodded. She opened her mouth to ask something but was interrupted by a loud beep. Tseng looked at his watch and swore softly.
"I need to go. Rufus will expect my report."
"Will we get to meet again?" Yuffie asked hopefully.
"I don't know. After what you did to Reno and Rude, it's possible he will want you hunted down. It would be best for everyone if you left the city or at least kept out of trouble. If I think of a safe way to contact you, I'll do so," he quickly hugged her. "Take care cousin."
"See you later, Tseng," Yuffie murmured to him as he stepped away and, with a small bow, left. She looked at her own watch, realizing she had over three hours left before she needed to retire for the day. She decided to head back to her hideout and get some blood. She felt rather drained after an extensive use of her abilities and it wouldn't do to grow weak while in an enemy territory. With a plan for the rest of the night, she retraced her steps from before to get to safety.